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Applying by mail to stay in Canada

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Temporary residents in Canada seeking to extend their stay must apply electronically unless they are one of the exceptions.

Electronic applications became mandatory for most temporary residence applications on June 4, 2019. Applications need to be sent electronically if foreign nationals want to:

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the federal immigration department, allows some exceptions to this rule.

Find out how to stay in Canada

Exceptional circumstances

In IRCC’s words, “exceptional circumstances beyond the control of foreign nationals, individuals or entities” can be grounds for sidestepping the online application requirement.

Applicants may fall under this exemption if they cannot submit applications electronically because of inadequate, or incompatible electronic infrastructure in their country.

Exceptional circumstances could also include a natural disaster, political turmoil, or another situation that limits their access to electronic communication.


People who are unable to apply electronically due to a disability are also exempt. Instead, they may apply by a paper application.

Systems restrictions

There are two online tools for Canadian immigration applications:

IRCC says these tools are inadequate for some applicants inside Canada, so these people are exempt from the mandatory online application.

Here are the forms that are exempt from the electronic application requirement for people applying from inside Canada:

If the foreign national has an authorized paid representatives with access to Canada’s APR portal, the representative is required to submit applications electronically on behalf of their client.

Find out how to stay in Canada

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